Sustainable Packaging Delivers Lighter Weight, Higher Recycled Material Content

by | May 3, 2010

As more consumers focus on “green” packaging as part of their purchasing decisions, food and beverage companies continue to work on sustainable packaging centered on using less materials and increasing the amount of recycled content. Packaging suppliers are also developing new eco-friendly shipping options.

As an example, Fetzer Vineyards recently completed the redesign of its wine bottles, which was unveiled in the UK, reports Food and Drink Digital. The company made the decision to redesign its bottles for both environmental and economic reasons.

The new bottles contain 25.5 percent less glass than the total weight of previous bottles. As a result, the vineyard’s glass use for wines imported to the UK has been reduced by 96 tonnes and the carbon footprint of its packaging has dropped by 485 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

In addition, the new label is made from 100 percent recycled paper and is printed with soy ink.

This isn’t the first time the winery reduced the weight of its bottles. In 2008, the vineyard switched to 750-milliliter bottles that were on average 14 percent lighter.

In the foods industry, United Biscuits is switching to recycled polyethylene (rPET) for all its thermoformed trays by the end of 2010, reports Ninety five percent of the biscuit maker’s product range uses carton board or plastic packaging.

United Biscuit’s sustainable packaging strategy has focused on thinner films and reducing the amount of material used. The company has achieved a 13 percent packaging reduction over the past seven years.

The company has tested several biopolymers including cellulose and polylactic acid (PLA) in house.

Other food and beverage companies including Naya, Naked Juice, Coca Cola, Danone, and Pepsico also have boosted the use of recycled plastics over the past year.

According to new research from Datamonitor, consumers are looking for recyclable and sustainable packaging to help combat climate change, reports

About 57 percent of the surveyed consumers said it was important to buy ethical or socially responsible products, while 42 percent reported altering their habits to do so.

A key finding indicates that consumers focus on packaging as part of their purchase decisions, and are changing their buying habits to include products with reduced packaging.

The pallet industry is also making strides in sustainability with one giant retailer leading the charge.

Pallet manufacturers and suppliers will have to make some “green” changes particularly if they want Wal-Mart’s business, reports Pallet Enterprise. Wal-Mart wants to eliminate 20 percent of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions from its supply chain by 2015.

Wal-Mart also wants to eliminate all waste by reducing, recycling or reusing everything that comes into its 4,100 American stores by 2025, and for Asda, its British operation, the target is 2010. The giant retailer aims to reduce the amount of packaging in the supply chain 5 percent by 2013, and is working with suppliers to help find sustainable packaging solutions.

Some sustainable examples cited in the article include Impact Manufacturing’s display called “The Cube,” made from layers of recycled paper. It’s designed to be both a shipping unit and display unit.

Fresh Pak developed a plastic slip sheet — a two-pound piece of recycled plastic with the thickness of a sheet of notebook paper — as a replacement for wooden pallets. The slip sheets are said to reduce freight and shipping costs by 25 percent.

Rehrig Pacific also makes slip sheets made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials, such as high-density polyethylene bottles. The slip sheets are reusable. Rehrig also makes reusable plastic crates for shipping beverages and produce.

Amy Zettlemoyer-Lazar, Sam’s Club senior director of packaging and supplier diversity, told Pallet Enterprises that Wal-Mart wants suppliers to use packaging and shipping material made from sustainable materials that use 100 percent renewable energy and create zero waste.

Wal-Mart rolled out its Packaging Scorecard in 2008 and introduced its sustainability index in 2009 to grade suppliers and products on a range of environmental and sustainable factors.

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